Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mulroney Corruption: How to Proceed

We are almost certainly going to have an inquiry into the 1993 dealings of Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schreiber. The inquiry has a narrow focus and will not deal with other possible corrupt practices by our former prime minister.

Since the inquiry will cover the Schreiber $300,000, the Ethics committee should focus on other matters, such as:

- The huge amounts of cash given to the Mulroneys during his years as PM: how much he got, how much they spent, where it came from, whether the Mulroneys paid tax on it.

- The money Frank Moores said he was collecting to give Mulroney after he was prime minister. How much was this? Was there a quid pro quo?

- Airbus. Where did the $20 million earmarked for Canadian schmiergelder go?

Due to the diligence of investigative journalists Stevie Cameron and Harvey Cashore, we know that Airbus, Thyssen and Messerschmitt Bolkow-Blohm earmarked tens of millions to influence the Canadian government during the Mulroney years. We need to start connecting some dots. We know Frank Moores lobbied for Airbus to help them get Air Canada to buy planes; we know Brian Mulroney appointed Frank Moores to the board of Air Canada just before the Airbus vote, but Moores was forced to resign because of a public scandal; we know Mulroney made other dubious appointments to the Air Canada board; we know that on February 4, 1986, Schreiber and Giorgio Pelossi opened two Swiss bank accounts, one each for Moores and Mulroney. All this has been in the public domain for years. We need to get testimony on these issues under oath and then we need someone to decide what it all adds up to.

- The 1983 Tory leadership covention where Schreiber chartered planes and bribed delegates to vote for Mulroney, apparently bankrolled by far-right Austrians and arms dealers: how many delegates were given free flights or bribed; who exactly was behind this and why; who besides Frank Moores was in on it; what did Mulroney know.

- Whether Mulroney should return the $2.1 million defamation suit settlement, given that he appears to have lied under oath during the proceedings. (David Johnston left this issue out of his recommendations for the inquiry.)

The Ethics committee should from now on put every witness under oath. They should consider granting immunity to witnesses, if that is possible.

In addition to the Ethics committee hearings and the inquiry, I urge investigative journalists and/or the RCMP to look into the wider issue of who else got bribes and who else paid bribes.

Schreiber has said that the ministries of transport and defence are where most of the graft is collected: those two ministries have the big-money contracts that can net the minister and other decision-makers the big kickbacks. During the Mulroney years, did the ministers of transport or defence have any extra spending money? Each big contract should be investigated. It seems pretty clear that the Mulroney government was into extraremuneratory deals, and it's very likely that the shennanigans went on with other nogoodnicks besides Karlheinz Schreiber.

See also:
- Documents in the case

4 comments:

Ron said...

What is so wonderful about this is that accusations and innuendo are enough to keep this going. Since you don't have to worry about truth, facts or logic, any negative spin is fair game. I do seem to notice it is a tad one sided though. There is still a missing 4 million from the sponsonship mess that I am sure you are interested in tracking down. There was evidence at the Gomery inquiry about Liberal candidates getting envelopes of money (just like Mulroney) that hasn't been settled yet and since you are so concerned with corruption by former PMs, I am sure you will want to re-open the golf course issue and Shawinigate stuff. I know you have an interest in knowing all the facts so, if you care to check, the main reason Schrieber was angry with Harper was because when Harper became PM, Shrieber expected him to launch a witch hunt against the Liberals who didn't help Schrieber with his extradition problem. When Harper didn't do that, Schrieber started getting mad at Harper -- OK, let's conceed every one who has ever run for office is a liar and a thief and move on --- Mulroney is gone, Chretien is gone. Guess we can start fresh, unless you need some garbage to throw at Harper so you can get a point or two in the polls and maybe get back at the trough -- no, that can't be what is behind this. An honest search for the truth is at the core, so let's get a few witnesses to check into the Liberal 13 years - should be interesting -- Oh we can ignore the Sponsorship mess cus we did have a public inquiry that showed the quality of the Liberal party quite well.

Yappa said...

Hi Ron -

Thanks for the comment. You make a strong case. I disagree with it because you can't argue that one criminal act shouldn't be prosecuted just because other offenders haven't been prosecuted. If we did that, we'd never be able to prosecute anybody. In addition, I think you're overstating the Adscam case - and in any case, there was a wide-ranging, lengthy public inquiry about it.

Some people think there's a witch hunt going on against Mulroney by people who always hated them. What they forget is that some of us watched the string of financial scandals during his era, and heard the neverending rumors about millions of dollars of cash flowing in and out of 24 Sussex, and suspected that he was engaging in very serious corrupt practices. Now that there is proof of some of the shady deals it is frustrating that we might not get to the bottom of it. Don't forget that the Ethics committee convened because Schreiber was almost extradited on December 1, and they wanted to hear from his first.

I don't see these investigations as having anything to do with Harper unless he was involved in a cover-up.

Ron said...

"I disagree with it because you can't argue that one criminal act shouldn't be prosecuted just because other offenders haven't been prosecuted."

I totally agree - but you seem to be under the impression that there was a criminal act concerning the Mulroney-Schrieber matter. The RCMP investigated for many years and have stated that there is no evidence of any illegal activity. Also, the Canada Revenue Agency in charge of tax matters is not pursuing Mulroney or indicating any charges are pending or that they have any problem with him or his settlement of the tax matter at all. So for you to insinuate that there is something criminal or illegal at all is untrue and unfair. You may wish to infere that something contrary to the House of Commons Ethics rules at the time occured but that is the maximum charge that can be layed. That is why there is so much suspicion of a witch hunt in this matter. Despite 15 years of the CBC having a full time journalist working on it (The 5th Estate/MacIntyre(sp)), despite 10 years of RCMP investitgations, and despite testimony and thousands of papers from Schrieber, the only possible accusation that stands up is Mulroney may have breached ethics rules when he took the first envelope a month before he stepped down as an MP.
Now, if evidence comes up that proves guilt of a criminal nature, I will be hollering for a stronger punishement than the typical Liberal because I was one of the thousands that left the PC party during the Mulroney years because of many of his policies and the rumoured financial dealings. Until then, I won't participate in any political witch hunt for political points - against Mulroney or anyone else.
By the way, Happy New Year.

Yappa said...

To Ron -

Hi again, and happy new year to you!

As to illegalities we know of now... It looks like Mulroney lied under oath about his dealings with Schreiber, and he didn't pay GST on the cash from Schreiber. Plus, breaking the House ethics rules is pretty important, especially for a PM.

But beyond that, there are a lot of facts that point towards serious illegalities. As I said in the post, we know that Airbus gave Schreiber $20M to distribute to politicians in Canada; we know that Mulroney put an Airbus lobbiest on the board of Air Canada; and so on. The RCMP didn't do a good investigation... they never even got proof of the cash from Schreiber. Part of the reason they didn't is that Mulroney interfered with their investigation by suing them - and lying under oath.

So I think there are a lot of unanswered questions that need further airing and investigation. Prime ministers shouldn't be above the law. Also, we need to do what we can to stop these sorts of blatant corrupt practices from happening again (if, indeed, he's guilty).